Well, it is a done deal. With the big Trump win in the Indiana primary yesterday, he is now the “presumptive” nominee of a Republican party that is no more. Sure, on the surface it still has elements of a party, but one so fractured and confused that some are resigning from the party, while even more are just trying to ride the Trump wave and hope for the best. They work on their rationalizations that allow Trump the square peg to fit into the round hole of conservatism and console themselves with Never Hillary slogans.
Funny, now that Trump has won the first season of Political Survivor, I’m tired of the show. While his success still fascinates me, I’m tired of the man and his game of pretending to be the anti-politician while actually being the new more clever version of the old breed. The improvement lying in his ability to lie more effectively than the others.
He’s the best at appearing authentic while also running circles around the other politicians when it comes to misrepresenting the truth to his advantage. The desire to win this particular game of survivor shapes everything he says and does. He is great at appearing to speak his mind, but much of what he says is what he thinks we (or many of us at least) want to hear. He doesn’t speak his mind. He speaks our minds.
Or he shapes our minds to dismiss his opponents by “branding” them with convincing put downs like “low energy Jeb” and “Lying Ted”. And after they are vanquished, he invariably praises them, basically admitting that it is all just a game of survivor. For example, when accepting an endorsement from Ben Carson, whom he had earlier labelled as “pathological” Trump acted as if it were a compliment, his attacks on Carson being signs of respect for the man who was moving up in the polls at the time.
And now the same with Ted Cruz. Yesterday morning Trump referred to an article in the Miami Herald showing a photo which is purportedly of Ted Cruz’s father with Lee Harvey Oswald. Of course, Trump acted shocked that this awful realization was not drawing more attention, leaving out that it initially came from the National Enquirer, which has endorsed Trump. And it is not clear the photo is what it is purported to be.
That touched a hot button with Cruz angered by inferences made about his father. That prompted a long tirade denouncing Trump for being a pathological liar, among many other dastardly traits.
Once it was clear Trump had won, he ignored that earlier verbal assault and said of Cruz that “while I don’t know if he likes me or doesn’t like me” (which is hard to believe unless you realize that Trump often says terrible things about an opponent whom he later says he likes) but Ted (not lying Ted) “is one hell of a competitor. He is a tough smart guy and he has got an amazing future. I want to congratulate Ted.” Trump also wished the former lying Ted and his beautiful family the best.
The wonder of Trump is that he can be so false (either in his attacks or in his praise), while managing to escape the criticism of being just one more politician. My theory is Trump has many fans beyond his base of birthers and no-nothings who view him as appropriating typical political misrepresentations and using that tactic against the old line politicians. These fans actually appreciate Trump’s cleverness at beating the politicians at their own game, so they don’t mind his playing false as long as it helps him win. Many probably admire the strategy.
His fans of all stripes believe in him or at least in the possibility of him as he is not beholding to anyone and continues to show himself the winner he has longed claimed to be. The fundamental factor in Trump’s favor is: “Voters want fundamental change and aren’t really interested in candidates that look like more of the same,” in the words of political commentator Mark Halperin.
Hillary looks like more of the same and Trump look like something new. While many other factors will come into play, that would seem to give Trump an initial advantage in Political Survivor: Season Two despite polls that indicate the opposite.